Through it All!
(2 Corinthians 4:8 & 9 KJV) We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
I do not know one person who has not, or is not right now facing tough times. Life is not always easy, it is not always fair, it is not always fun. It seems like everything start to get turned around for the better something else comes alone and knocks you back even further. I had to really think about what we need most today. Some people are in financial difficulties. Some people are suffering the lose of a loved one. Some are going through problems with their marriage. Others are struggling within themselves over past failures and future plans. Of all things that we are facing there is one thing that we need, and that is hope. With hope you find a way. With hope you make it through another day. With hope you get up and say. "I am more that a conqueror today."
But, hope that is not real will not last and hope that is false will not see you through even the softest of problems. We need a hope that has experienced persecution. We need a hope that has seen less men then us through harder circumstances.
Where do people look for hope? Many people look for hope through religion. Personally, I know more people who have either given up on religion or have been hurt by it then I know that really put their hope in it. I almost used the word faith there instead of hope. There is a big difference. You can have faith in your religion without it giving you any real hope for your daily situations. You can have faith and still not have enough hope to get you out of a wet paper bag.
Some people put their hope in government. Some put their hope on the right, some on the left. Both come up empty in a storm. Look at New Orleans. There is one place that had been controlled by the left for decades. It was to be the Mecca of liberalism. Then the storm hit and no one was there, not the left, not the right. The left blamed the right and the right blamed the left. What happened was that people got left without hope. No, there is no real lasting hope in government.
Many people put their hope in money. Many jumped out of the windows of tall buildings because of that false hope. Oh, don't get me wrong, more money would help solve a lot of peoples immediate problems, but there is never enough to take the place of real hope. Too many people have learned that money will not buy you love. Too many people have discovered that the love of money is indeed the root of all evil. Notice, it is the love of money and not money itself. We all need money but don't count on it when the chips are down.
Ok, OK Bob so you have told us enough about the things that we can't really put our hope in, so where does our hope lie?
You probably know that I am going to say it is in God. But, I thought you said right up front that we can't put our hope in religion? God and religion are two completely different things.
Personally, when someone asks me what religion I am I tell them that I am a Christian. And if you continue to break that down I could say that I am a Pentecostal Christian. So, what picture do you think that gives to people? To some it gives a picture of an uptight, overly zealous fanatic. Some others might call themselves Catholics. What is the first thing that pops in your mind with that? then others may consider themselves Muslim. That brings up some real loving mental pictures doesn't it. No, I believe that if we want any real hope for ourselves and for our fellow man we are going to have to put our religion on the back burner and bring God to the forefront.
A lot of people can not do that. And that is sad. A lot of people would rather play church than be the church. A lot of people would rather die on the battle field of religion then sit at the table of a loving God. Then others, who either have been so turned off by religion or hurt by it, that they choose to run as far away from anything that even looks close to being religion, thus leaving God and any real hope behind.
Still others are so shallow with their belief, or maybe it is their knowledge of who God is that at the first sign of trouble they crumble and blame it all upon God. Then they either turn their hope inward and try to work things out themselves, or turn to their government looking for a bailout, or a way out.
But every time we see someone who really, I mean really seeks the one true God and discovers Him. There is a man who has more hope in the toughest times to see him and his family and his country and the entire world through them to the green pastures on the other side.
My original message for today was going to be entitled "The Way." The fact is we are on on a journey from the womb to the grave and along the many paths that we have to choose from there is one way that leads us to higher ground.
I am going to take us into the Old Testament today to see how it was the hope in God that saw many a good man through some real hard times. The oldest book in the Bible is the book of Job. Now there was a man who had no reason to hope. And quite frankly he felt hopeless sitting there in that dung pile.
(Job 7:6 KJVA)My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope.
All his friends tried to give him hope. Did you ever have someone try to convice you that there was hope when you could not see any? That is exactly how Job took their advice too:
(Job 11:13-18 CEV)Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins-- even those you do in secret. Then you won't be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless. Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge, and your darkest night will be brighter than noon. You will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry.
Did you ever have someone give you that kind of advice. Basically what Job's good friend was saying was that Job must have brought all of this on himself by his sin, and that he needed to repent and turn to God. Yeh, that always makes me feel so much better, how about you. things start going really wrong in your life and someone tells you that you had better get right with God because God is causing all this bad stuff to happen to you because you are such a sinner.
Job felt the same way!
(Job 12:1-5 CEV)Job said to his friends: You think you are so great, with all the answers. But I know as much as you do, and so does everyone else. I have always lived right, and God answered my prayers; now friends make fun of me. It's easy to condemn those who are suffering, when you have no troubles.
Oh, and some people put their hope in other people. I discovered a long time ago that people, even those closest to you can let you down the hardest. Job, like us, need real lasting hope.
Job needed to know the truth of who God is. We all need to know the truth of who God is. Most of us get out idea of God from religion. We understand God the way our parents understood him. We just take it for granted that the God that they put in their little box of understanding was God. The truth is that no box can hold the glory of God. We need to open the eyes of our hearts to see the true hope that is in God. God finally speaks to Job and we get a picture of where our hope can come from.
(Job 40:1 - 7 CEV)I am the LORD All-Powerful, but you have argued that I am wrong. Now you must answer me. Job said to the LORD: Who am I to answer you? I did speak once or twice, but never again. Then out of the storm the LORD said to Job: Face me and answer the questions I ask!
Who are we to think that we have a handle of God? Who are we to think we know better than God? We are we to be demanding things from God? The greatest thing you can do is to simply trust Him and know that He is the way.
We put up such a fight sometimes. We want things to be done our way. Well, our ways are not God's ways and our thoughts are not like God's thoughts. He sees the end from the beginning. What I am telling you today is that no matter what the situation, no matter how deep the water, no matter how hot the flames, God will see you through. You can put you rtrust, your faith and you have real hope in God.
Let's look at the how Job's life turned out and know that we have the same hope.
(Job 42:1 - 10 CEV)Job said: No one can oppose you, because you have the power to do what you want. You asked why I talk so much when I know so little. I have talked about things that are far beyond my understanding. You told me to listen and answer your questions. I heard about you from others; now I have seen you with my own eyes. That's why I hate myself and sit here in dust and ashes to show my sorrow. The LORD said to Eliphaz: What my servant Job has said about me is true, but I am angry at you and your two friends for not telling the truth. So I want you to go over to Job and offer seven bulls and seven goats on an altar as a sacrifice to please me. After this, Job will pray, and I will agree not to punish you for your foolishness. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar obeyed the LORD, and he answered Job's prayer. After Job had prayed for his three friends, the LORD made Job twice as rich as he had been before.
Are you going through hard times right now. Well, your hope is in God seeing you through them. Because if you are going through something at least you are not stuck in it. Look for that light at the end of the tunnel and when you can't see any light let His word be a lamp unto you feet and just take one step at a time.
The secret is to trust in Him. Trust in Him in the hard times. Trust in Him in times of plenty. Trust in Him right now and know that there is hope.
Going back real quick to our original passage with Paul. Paul knew tribulation. In our original passage he was telling us how he was pressed but not crushed, persecuted, not abandoned. struck down but not destroyed. You my friend are blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure, His joy will be your strength.
There is only one other thing that will help you put all of this together and really make it applicable and relevant to your daily life and that is kind of like what you do on your computer. On the desktop of your computer you usually have a bunch of icons of the different programs that you can access.
What we need in our daily life is the icon for God.
(John 1:1-3 KJVA)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
If you need hope today, click on the icon of God and because He has made a way. trust in Him today and never loose hope.
God Bless you!